Vesconite Hilube liners reduce noise on S6000 trams in Italy
19 June 2024

Vesconite Bearings, a leader in advanced bearing solutions, recently received an order for 60 spherical Vesconite Hilube liners. This order came after less than one year of initial testing. 

These liners will be used in the GE90-SW plain spherical bearings at the articulation points of the S6000 tram fleet operated by an Italian tram operator in a busy urban environment. This order reflects the tram operator’s confidence in Vesconite’s low-friction, wear-resistant solutions, which have significantly reduced noise during normal operation.

Before the adoption of Vesconite Hilube liners, the S6000-series trams utilised PTFE (Polytetrafluoroethylene) liners in the articulation bearings.

Over time, these liners exhibited notable increases in noise levels, which were reported by both drivers and passengers as significant and disruptive. This noise pollution was exacerbated as the liners wore out, impacting the overall comfort and experience of tram journeys.

In May 2023, Vesconite Hilube liners were installed on four of the operator’s S6000-series trams, with six liners per tram, specifically aimed at replacing the originally specified material in the bearings.  

The articulation points between the tram cars are crucial for tram manoeuvrability and are subject to high stress levels and environmental exposure, including:

• Rain, mud, pollution, and leaves.

• Temperature variations from -10°C to 40°C.

• A stretch of 200 metres with an 8% gradient and other longer stretches with gradients between 4% and 5%.

• Minimum curve radius of 15 metres.

Vesconite Hilube liners were chosen for their superior performance characteristics including internal lubrication, which removed the need for greasing; the ability to withstand a range of temperatures; resistance to wear from abrasive materials; and low-friction properties that facilitate smooth turning.

The installation of Vesconite Hilube liners led to immediate and noticeable improvements. The Italian tram operator reported reduced noise levels in the passenger lounges ⎻ a factor which has enhanced the overall journey experience for both passengers and drivers.

This positive outcome was pivotal in the operator’s decision to place an additional order for 60 liners, with plans to eventually replace all liners on its fleet of 55 S6000-series trams.

Noise pollution from various sources, including trams, has been recognised as a public health issue in Europe. In response, European authorities have instituted measures to monitor and manage environmental noise, as outlined in Directive 2002/49/EC of the European Parliament and the Council of 25 June 2002. Consequently, tram and railway authorities are motivated to adopt technologies that mitigate noise, in the spirit of the regulations, and improve public health outcomes.

By reducing noise levels, the Vesconite Hilube liners not only enhance the comfort of tram journeys but also contribute to broader efforts to address noise pollution. This aligns with the European directive and showcases the operator’s commitment to sustainable and health-conscious urban transit solutions.

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